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Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA establishes Texas Institute for Creativity and Innovation

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A new institute founded by Stephen F. Austin State University aims to work with area businesses and governmental agencies to promote creativity and innovation in the area's workforce.

The primary goal of the new Texas Institute for Creativity and Innovation is to encourage creativity at all levels of the university by identifying current models of innovation to be highlighted and replicated across the campus, the institute's founding director said.

"To compete in what some are now calling the 'creative economy,' the next generation of graduates will need high-level skills in creative and innovative thinking," said Dr. Ron Anderson, director of SFA's School of Music and founding director of the institute.

"If the United States wishes to remain the global economic leader well into the future, it will need to remain the leader in developing important new ideas. Otherwise, it may well find itself being the copier rather than the copied."

Another purpose of the new institute at SFA is to work directly with the public schools in Texas to develop models of creativity and innovation that can be replicated statewide, Anderson said. Creativity experts point to the value of teaching creativity while lamenting that too often the natural curiosity and inquisitiveness found in young children are "taught out of them" in the name of strictly following the rules and the need for classroom conformity.

"We feel passionately at TICI that it is vital to retrain current teachers to embrace and encourage many more school activities that promote the development of creative and innovative skills in our children and youth," he said. "But what in the end may be even more vital for our country is to graduate a new generation of public school teachers for whom student curiosity is encouraged, a new generation that expects creative risk-taking for their students and is not afraid of children who 'color outside the lines.'"

About 40 faculty and staff representatives from SFA and the Nacogdoches Independent School District already have joined the institute. Membership is free to anyone interested in becoming actively involved.

The institute will host a national conference, titled "Creativity Summit: Solutions for Business, Government and Education," Feb. 5-6, 2009. The event will feature SFA and NISD faculty members, as well as several guest presenters, including Dr. John Linehard, the author and voice of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity" heard on public radio; Dr. Victor Perotti, an innovator in business applications from the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Karen Gagnon, director of the Michigan "Cool Cities Initiative."

For more information on the institute or the conference, visit the TICI Web site at www.sfasu.edu/tici or contact Dr. Ron Anderson at (936) 468-4602 or randerson@sfasu.edu.